European-Style Jewels

Raspberry Miroirs and Citrus Delices

Last week I took part in an intensive cake workshop.  Chef Barry Marcus, formerly of The Institute of Culinary Education in New York, led a very informative and fun class in the creation of  European-style cakes, and I came away with these gorgeous jewels.

The little treasures are Raspberry Miroirs and Citrus Delices.  Both have layers of almond sponge cake and Framboise Syrup.  The miroirs are raspberry puree, raspberry Bavarian mousse, and raspberry glaze.  Miroir means mirror in French as you might guess from the shiny glazed surface.  The delice consist of lemon lime mousse, raspberry filling, and a meringue crown.

My classmate, who happened to be a pathologist by day, became my accomplice in raspberry crime, as we secreted fresh red raspberries under the mousse filling when no one was looking. These miroirs were the best.  Ah, but those citrus delice wonders tasted like the most intense lemon meringue pie filling with a sophisticated flair.  Perhaps they are my favorite.  Such a dilemma.

Chef Barry Marcus is an alumnus of Payard Patisserie, Tribeca Grill and Le Cirque.  He studied the art of pulled sugar in the U.S. at the International School of Confectionery Arts and in Switzerland at the Fabilo International School of Sugar Art.  He is an engaging instructor, and I came away with a much deeper knowledge of technique. I loved creating these regal desserts.

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See Our Town for Brownie Update

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Day Trip Chicago !


What  fun!  Last week my daughter and I flew away to the Windy City for a little adventure.  We headed to a part of Chicago we had never explored, Old Town. We had such a relaxing, fun day that you may just want to follow in our steps.  The day was absolutely gorgeous; an 81 degree high, flower boxes in full glory, nice breeze.  Old Town is an easy ride from O’hare.  The Blue Line, which runs from airport, connects to the Brown Line at Clark/Lake, then you just head North a few stops, and there you are ($2.25 per person each way).  When you are full of deep-dish pizza, or finished shopping for spices or cooking oils, then you can also head to The Chicago History Museum or, perhaps, the Lincoln Park Zoo, which are both in the vicinity.

We made a few new friends in Old Town.  Wells Street is full of shops, and many of them are food related, so we were in exploring heaven.   We sampled hot toffee, smelled about 100 spices, walked among the flowers, tried on vintage clothing, and were so relaxed and full of deep dish Chicago-style pizza, that we were probably the happiest passengers on the flight back home.

One of our absolute favorites: The Spice House. If you get close enough to the door the aroma of spices will just pull you in.

We could not have been more welcomed.  Loni, an ambassador of all things spice, led the way through the rustic store, which is reminiscent of Penzey’s in Maplewood, MO.  Their similarity is not a surprise, as the owner of,  The Spice House, is in the same family as the creators of Penzeys.

Spice Expert, Baking Princess

Loni is so knowledgeable about everything in the shop, but it also turns out that she is a baker extraordinaire.   After we smelled and discussed tons of spices, we headed to the area that is dearest to us, the baking area:  cinnamons (yes, plural), bark as well as multiple ground cinnamons.  I purchased a packet of  Saigon Cassia cinnamon, a variety from Vietnam containing 6-7 % volatile oil,  pungent dried zest of orange and lime, lavender flowers to top a favorite cookie recipe, cassia buds (I am munching on one now).  We also examined all the vanillas, but sadly had to avoid purchasing those due to the  3-1-1 rule regarding liquids in carry-on luggage.

Loni gave us the whole rundown of the shop, as we shared stories of green tea ice cream, cinnamon ice cream (the main reason I wanted some of that Saigon cinnamon), farmers’ markets,  special vegan frosting recipes.  She could not have been more lovely. Go see her at The Spice House at 1512 North Wells Street.  Thanks Loni, and thanks to Bridget, the manager for supplying information and for making us so welcome.

Next, James and David, at The Fudge Pot, right down the street from Loni.  Yum!

Rows and Rows of Candies

As you walk by the Fudge Pot, you can look down into the shop and cooking area from street level. When we were peeping through the window, hands around eyes to see through the glass, there was David, smiling and waving us in.


We were so welcomed, and the shop was full of everything chocolate, from their best seller, chocolate covered toffee, to Corvettes of chocolate, chocolate-covered strawberries, turtles….

David, pointing the way

James introduced us to, David.  David has been a  chocolatier at the shop for years.  His picture is part of the mural painted on the exterior brick.  David was gracious enough to let us hang around and watch him make toffee.

Our Old Town stroll was an absolute delight.

We left with smiles, little white bags of goodies, and memories of our new Old Town friends.

Chocolate-Covered Toffee

North Wells Street in Old Town is made for exploring.  It is meant to be enjoyed at a relaxed pace. Don’t miss its little bakeries, restaurants, culinary shops, like Old Town Oil, a shop full of olive oils and flavored oils, and another favorite, Old Town Music, a shop for music classes and a place to pick out a ukulele.

Oh, and don’t forget to fuel up with some great Chicago-style pizza at Bacino’s.

Follow in our foodie footsteps and go home satisfied, relaxed, and full of memories.


3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume) ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3.4 ounce (100ml) container size is a security measure.
As you are at security, running late for your flight, can you imagine a TSA agent holding your newly purchased bottle of Madagascar Vanilla between their thumb and forefinger, hovering over the open trash can, waiting for your response to the question, “do you want to leave this, or do you want to go back upstairs and check this?”


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My Market Staples

Hot from the Oven

Double-size Blueberry Muffins*******Double-size Raspberry Streusel Muffins******Golden Oat Muffins*****Swedish Butter Cake**********Giant Oatmeal  Raisin Cookies*******Blueberry, Strawberry, Blackberry, Cherry Scones********Authentic Southern Pound Cake*******Italian Apricot Almond Shortbread******Poppyseed Cake*****New York Crumb Cake*****Sour Cream Walnut Coffee Cake******Chocolate Guinness Cake*****Double Chocolate Walnut Brownies******Double Chocolate Cupcakes******Giant Banana Cupcakes*******Pumpkin Spice Cake*****************************

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Bee Reasonable

My neighbor has kept bees for years, and the above supers are from his collection of hives.  Charles is an advocates for bees and knows their value to us all.

We must keep the environment safe for the honeybees.  They are like the canary in the mine.  Even if they didn’t do anything else but supply us with the fruit of their labor, like in those 3 pound jars above, that would be enough, but they are also vital in their role as pollinators.

Check out the link below from Michigan State University regarding pollination and bees.

“…….there have been a number of reports in the media about the mysterious disappearance of large numbers of honey bees called colony collapse disorder. This has many growers concerned about how they will continue to be able to pollinate their crops. Now more than ever, it is critical to consider practices that will benefit pollinators by providing habitats free of pesticides, full of nectar and pollen resources, and with ample potential nesting resources.”


There is magic in those jars.


jars of honey photos taken by Susan, cherry blossoms with bee taken by G….all other bee related photos supplied by Charles and Dee….all the honey supplied by the bees.
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Hot Cakes!

Just a note to my dear customers.  I will not be selling at the market on, Saturday, July 23.

Find a way to   STAY COOL !!!

no prisoners

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A Hand of Cacao

I took the above photo of the inside of a cacao pod on a hillside in Bocas del Toro, Panama.  In order to bring to you such unique and informative photos, I often take undue risks, but someone has to do this for your benefit.  Mouth of the Bull…picture, if you will,  about 10 people being soundly bobbed about in an open air boat in the surf line along a reef between the mainland of Panama and the island of Bocas del Toro.  The waves making such deep troughs that the boat disappeared then reappeared as we struggled to make progress. Intense blue noon sky. Clear aqua and celadon sea. The boat sporting another aqua of peeling thirty year old paint.  Water crashing into the boat through the openings on the left and right of the windshield. All the while, I kept my gaze upon the driver’s face. If he started to look worried, then I was going to start gnawing on the ancient ropes lashing down the faded orange life vests. Well, of course, we made it and thus the photo, and my even sweeter memories of landing on terra firma.
If you ever find yourself hiking in the hot tropical hills, you might find refreshment in cracking open one of these pods used by ancient civilizations.  In the photo above are my young guides hands and the gift he offered.  He is all of about 15 years old, and he shimmied up the cacao tree with a lithe grace, then threw down several pods, cracked them open on a boulder, and offered up the sweet, moist inner seeds.  Was so enlightening and refreshing.  A hot day in a foreign place with welcoming smiles and a new taste of an ancient treat.



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A Pride of Vanilla


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I am mad for  vanilla.  I recently purchased a ton of vanilla beans.  Well, not a ton exactly, more like about 50 beans.  In the world of expensive vanilla, that equals a ton of pleasure and good taste.                  How decadent!


see some vanilla fun on the Tamarango Tips page

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Baked goods that live up to their name.  Created with the finest of ingredients, including:  organic flours, European-style butter, Madagascar vanilla, aluminum-free baking powder, high cocoa content chocolate, the freshest of spices.  We often bake with our own free-range eggs.

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